Contemporary poets from Basarabia 


Our Father who art in heaven you are the iron stake as I on earth am
    the cow tethered to you by the rope moo


which rope is a predicate because: 1) it shows what the subject is doing and 2) it answers
the question what’s going on? the family school taught me
that the subject is „cow”: it pulls out—
the active voice—the stake. as a child they cowed me by vaccinating me anti-
God: for me they pulled out the stake
my earthly father the puppeteer brought it to the junkyard he took me by the rope
and led me to school like an ox on a lead to learn
together with other milksops and mooncalves to ask
the question I knew the answer to. I was on the point of
coming back like a cow. oh innocence lost together with the first „why is it?”
and as to a child who surprised his parents
making love so truth showed itself to me. I recognized it: I must moo-
ve on to the next world! it was as if I’d been born again: I tugged on
my bedsheets though I remained motionless. only the rope moo
vibrated and its vibration filled the air with
circumvolutions. „there’s no light
anywhere...” since then I’ve had dark circles under my eyes. always ready
to tie myself to the rope moo—the reflexive
voice—around my neck. for a long time since then it’s been only knots. as I tried to
get to its point it passed through my hands
like a string of rosary beads: a lot of the time merely „why is it?” and again the same „why?”
until the words perhaps are melted together—the passive voice—
by the rope moo I will be led to him. like he who stays and wants to
swallow the moon as in that poem in verses
Tibi vero gratias agam quo clamore? Amore more ore re
I swallow a letter until it sticks in my throat ore re-


ality: with four legs an udder horns a tail on the tip of which
quotation marks make a whiskbroom. oh, when I was a wee lad following along at the cow’s tail
never was I sent to tend the cow—my relation with
the quadruped being established by this association: as a little kid
when I played a prank my grandmother yelled at me
“you pharaoh!” my flesh—seven white cows fat with milk eaten up by seven black and ill favored cows—since then
it’s a frightful nightmare from which I wake up—to interpret
it—and send for the priest. and the priest sends for
the bell ringer. and he sends for the gravedigger. at the command „one two three up!” they pick
the slave right out of his prison cell (it goes without saying
they didn’t have a clue about what anton pavlovich said: „everyday
you have to squeeze the slave out of you”) and they hurriedly present him to me. his words
strike my ears as through a stethoscope:


„a poem is—exactly the same as an empire. what is
an empire? exactly the same as the stomach of a bovine—sing
along with us the cow grazes
the grass so green...—with two larders: the bigger one is like a storehouse
where grass lies down in its green nightshirt and night
wakes up in coarse striped twill in the little
larder, which in fact sustains digestion. (‘don’t
be sad,’ father said, ‘you’re leaving
a larger prison for a narrower one’) I built
a fifth of the country—sing
along with us the flowers
flourish in the fields...—and I locked it up in the little larder. we put
guards all around. we put on a dog collar of
electricity and I threw the muzzle away. I sicced it on and
I set it loose at the barbed wire and (‘...but
you won’t be happy when you get out,’ he went on saying, ‘you’ll just change
a narrower prison for a larger one’) in this way
we handed out handouts and we had the upper hand. repeat
along with us: a poem
is—exactly the same as an empire. it has the stomach
of a bovine: hardly has it swallowed words when it starts
to digest them: its milk
we drink in the evening we drink it at noon in the morning we drink it and at night we drink it
and we drink it. signed: iosif vis-


sarionovich and his brothers.” an expansive poetry an endless poetry just like
latitude 66o 33' North the poem goes round and round.
we have been deported beyond the arctic circle of thought we subjects with warm
blood in our hearts where transcendence descends from the sky along thousands
of rope moos in the likeness of snow and it hangs
like a marionette in the heavens where space
makes one with time: wildly stripping off the aurora
borealis as if a shirt for which they did cast lots. from this
no escape exists. only writing an expansive poetry an endless poetry just like
latitude 66o 33' North you
let yourself be convinced by the words to run away with them. a „cow”—a


    „to recite
poems in prison”, ion muresan points out, „is the equivalent of organizing
a mass escape.” we celebrate, muresan cristofor and yours truly—we three kings of
Orient—on the eminescu anniversary at gherla, in one end
of the huge prison „in the shape of a broad U”—there’s no need for us
to wave our hands above us and thus pay homage: „eminesc-U-U-U!” like at a rally—in one
of the cells suddenly transformed to „the big house”—quotations
from eminescu decorate the walls (a heap of towels open
and close each quotation like quotation marks) beside a map
of greater romania and „excerpts from the statues of internment” together
with a thousand young people in coarse striped twill—oh their short
bristly hair like an english greensward cut to zero for at least ten
generations in a row—only eyes and ears, through the desire for elusive freedom—
libi. I inhale gherla air deep into my chest—not even the thickness
of my diaphragm between present and past—and I exhale the carbon dioxide of the gulag:
“osip mandelstam # the story is told # in those months
of detention # disgusted by dirt and misery # never ate
mess-hall grub # he was an unusually delicate poet # with an innate sense of
hygiene # a pure skeleton # flinging over his left shoulder
the toga of flesh # publius ovidius naso of the gulag # to
sustain his breath # he’d recite
to the common criminals # whole kilometers of poems # whereupon
they rewarded him # better than in borges’s prose # royally # with a portion
of white bread every day.” oh poetry, panem et circenses.


“a very docile population. the common people. a nation with fear of
god.” as if we all were born to one mother. as if
the mother gave birth to us one night in which
the black cow calved a heifer and the newly-calved heifer calved a heifer and
that heifer calved a heifer from which—turned away from the tit—we sucked.